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“Any person who has cause to suspect that any juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent, …, or has died as the result of maltreatment, shall report the case of the juvenile to the director of the department of social services.” NCGS 7B-301. That has been the law for a very long time. But up until December 1, 2013, there has not been any penalty for failing to follow it.

Now the law has teeth. Starting last December, any person or any institution that “knowingly or wantonly fails to report” a child who fits the statute is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. So is any person or institution that “knowingly or wantonly prevents” another person from making the required report.

The risks to licensed providers from looking the other way when they suspect child abuse or neglect, dependency, or maltreatment causing death are now much more serious, because even a misdemeanor conviction can cost the provider a license, an appointment, a certification, or a job, not to mention time in jail.

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